Growing up, I think my situation was very typical of many children who have narcissistic parents in some ways. Mainly in one way- secrecy was of the utmost importance. My mother never clearly said don’t tell anyone what she was doing to me, but somehow, I always knew telling would be a big mistake.
When I turned 17 & wanted to start dating, her abuse magnified. She was losing control of me & was less than thrilled with that fact. That is when she began to scream at me on a daily basis, making sure I spent my school & work lunch breaks with her, & she even had someone at my school report to her daily what I did during the day when she wasn’t around. It was a bad, bad time for me. I tried to talk a little about it to friends & even a school guidance counselor. No one was any help, so I sought out a therapist who turned out to be even less help. I found out I was completely on my own.
My mother often said during that time that I shouldn’t “air our dirty laundry.” I failed to realize at the time that it was *her* dirty laundry, not mine. I did realize though that telling the truth about the abuse she put me through was a bad thing. When she learned I’d talked to anyone about what she did, she would rage worse than usual. More screaming at me would follow, telling me what a terrible person I was, she was only doing what she did to help me, since I was so unreasonable she had to practice tough love on me, & more garbage.
As a result, I learned to keep quiet, not discussing what she did to me. I lived in fear that she would learn if I’d said anything about her. Plus, I also felt I was to blame. I believed her lies about what a terrible person I was. I must have been terrible to make her treat me so badly- what other reason could there be for what she did, I thought. Telling also felt disloyal- I felt like I was betraying my mother if I told what she did.
Eventually, I had to talk about it. I lived through hell with her, even as an adult, & couldn’t keep it bottled up inside anymore. My emotional health was a mess. I had to talk about it & start to heal. It was hard to do. For years I continued to feel guilty for “airing our dirty laundry.” It finally clicked though a couple of years ago… I felt God wanted me to write & publish my autobiography. That task was very daunting- once you write a book & it’s published, it’s out there for the world to see. Having a website is one thing- my parents don’t even own a computer, plus I could take it down if I was so inclined, so that wasn’t too intimidating. But a book?! That was terrifying!
To write the book, I finally had to get rid of those dysfunctional thoughts about sharing what happened to me, & God helped me tremendously in doing so. He showed me the real truth about discussing narcissistic abuse.
He showed me that talking about it isn’t being disloyal or dishonorable- it’s simply telling the facts. I have yet to embellish anything. I tell things as they happened. I never try to paint my parents in a bad light, although I’m sure the stories I tell do just that since they’ve done some bad things. I try to keep the way I phrase things as respectful as possible.
He also showed me that although I wasn’t a perfect child, I was good & I did nothing to deserve what happened to me. I never got into trouble or did drugs. I cut a few classes in high school (which my parents never knew about), but still maintained honor roll grades. My worst sin was sneaking behind my mother’s back to date the man who is now my ex husband. Granted not a good thing, but not the worst thing I could’ve done either. I only saw him at school & work so we didn’t see each other much.
God showed me too that there is nothing my parents can do to punish me anymore. My mother can’t show up at my job again & scream at me for the whole population of the place to see (that was humiliating!) or force me to listen to her tell me what a horrible person I am for having my own thoughts, feelings & needs. If she tries to scream at me now, I’ll either leave, hang up on her or kick her out of my home.
Accepting these truths will help you tremendously in your healing as well as your ability to talk about what happened!
And, I found a quote that helped me tremendously in writing my autobiography. Anne Lammont said, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” It’s very true! What happened to you at the hand of your abusive narcissistic mother is YOUR story. You have every right to share it with anyone you like.
I believe discussing narcissistic abuse to be a calling from God. You have to respect His calling more than fear your parents’ retribution. You aren’t betraying them by talking about it. You aren’t being a “bad daughter” either, so long as you share things in a respectful manner. If you believe God wants you to share your story, then share it! Not everyone is going to like it, but that isn’t your problem! Sharing your story will help raise awareness of narcissistic abuse & the damage it causes. It will encourage others who have been in similar situations. It lets people know they aren’t alone to read stories similar to theirs. It also helps reassure people that they aren’t crazy, bad, wrong, etc. It wasn’t their fault, & your story can help people to learn that.
Share your story, Dear Reader, however you believe God wants you to share it! xoxo